Quality statement 3: Alcohol education

Quality statement

Schools and colleges include alcohol education in the curriculum.

Rationale

Schools and colleges have an important role to play in helping children and young people to understand the harmful consequences of alcohol and in combating harmful drinking. Alcohol education should be used to increase knowledge about alcohol use and its effects. Learning and teaching about alcohol should be contextualised as part of promoting positive messages and values about keeping healthy and safe. Teachers and children and young people should be able to have open discussions about alcohol in the context of wider social norms, since one‑way information‑giving is not as effective in engaging children and young people in the topic and in affecting attitudes, values and behaviour.

Quality measures

Structure

Evidence that schools and colleges include alcohol education the curriculum.

Data source: Local data collection. Ofsted inspection reports contain information on the achievement of pupils, quality of teaching, behaviour and safety of pupils, and leadership and management for all schools and colleges. Also contained within the Health and Social Care Information Centre's Smoking, Drinking and Drug Use Among Young People in England.

Outcome

Rates of absence from school or college related to alcohol.

Data source: Local data collection.

What the quality statement means for head teachers, school governors, staff and local authorities

Head teachers and school governors include alcohol education in the curriculum. Although alcohol education is not a statutory part of the curriculum, quality statements describe best practice that goes beyond minimum statutory requirements and can be used to help organisations improve quality.

Staff who have the trust and respect of the children and young people in the school or college deliver alcohol education as part of the curriculum. Staff should have received appropriate training and be able to provide accurate information using appropriate techniques.

Local authorities advocate that schools and colleges in their area include alcohol education in the curriculum. Public health teams can offer help with education and training of staff and provide schools and colleges with information and materials for teaching.

What the quality statement means for children and young people

Children and young people in schools and colleges learn about keeping healthy and safe, and about alcohol use and its effects. This is done by giving them the chance to talk about the issues involved. This should help them to develop the knowledge, attitudes and skills needed to support their health and wellbeing.

Source guidance

Definitions of terms used in this quality statement

Schools and colleges

Schools and colleges comprise state-sector, special and independent primary and secondary schools and colleges, including:

  • free schools

  • academies and city technology colleges

  • pupil referral units, secure training and local authority secure units

  • further education colleges and sixth form colleges.

[Adapted from School-based interventions on alcohol (NICE guideline PH7)]

Alcohol education

Specific time should be allocated within the school curriculum to help children and young people to develop the knowledge, attitudes and skills needed to support their own health and wellbeing. Alcohol education should be tailored for different age groups and take different learning needs into account (based, for example, on individual, social and environmental factors). It should aim to encourage children not to drink, delay the age at which young people start drinking and reduce the harm it can cause among those who do drink. Alcohol education programmes should:

  • increase knowledge of the potential damage alcohol use can cause – physically, mentally and socially (including the legal consequences)

  • provide the opportunity to explore attitudes to – and perceptions of – alcohol use

  • help develop decision-making, assertiveness, coping and verbal and non‑verbal skills

  • help develop self-esteem

  • increase awareness of how the media, advertisements, role models and the views of parents, peers and society can influence alcohol consumption.

[School-based interventions on alcohol (NICE guideline PH7)]

Equality and diversity considerations

It is important to take individual, social, cultural, economic and religious factors into account when delivering alcohol education, and to tailor it to the needs of the children and young people. Groups that may be at increased risk of under‑age drinking and alcohol abuse, such as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) young people, should be considered.